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Uganda Land Commission Has Only 14 Titles Out Of 40 Properties Owned By Missions Abroad

John Mulimba, Minister of State for Regional Affairs

The Uganda Land Commission has revealed that it is in possession of titles for only 14 Mission properties out of 40 mission properties the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted to the Commission.

The revelation was made by Andrew Nyumba, the Acting Secretary at  Uganda Land Commission (ULC) while appearing before Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, that is investigating the whereabouts of the land titles of the properties owned by Uganda’s Missions abroad.

“The Uganda Land Commission received a list of 40 properties from Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Missions abroad requesting for an update on the list of their land titles. And upon further investigations, we have discovered that we have titles for 14 out of the 40 mission properties,” said Nyumba.

Norah Bigirwa, Chairperson Foreign Affairs Committee asked the Commission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to harmonize their records after it was revealed that even the land title for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after officials from the Commission denied being in possession of this land title.

“The title for our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is missing, and yet the Ministry indicated that the title is with ULC they deposited it, and you are denying the fact that you have the land title of the headquarters of ministry of foreign affairs. So we need that reconciliation, who isn’t saying the truth? Where is the problem?” asked Bigirwa.

According to the Uganda Land Commission, the titles that are in possession with include some two properties in New York City, two properties in Kinshasa-Democratic Republic of Congo, two properties in Abuja Nigeria among others.

Nyumba also informed the Committee that out of the two titles that had earlier been declared missing of the properties in South Africa, one has been found remarking, “After a very thorough search, we were able to land on the title for the official residency in South Africa it is a two storey building with a basement.”

The other properties whose titles are in possession of ULC include two properties in Cairo- Egypt and Bujumbura-Burundi, while in Juba South Sudan, Uganda possesses a three storey building but the titles haven’t yet been handed over to ULC as they are still in application form.

Nyumba while explaining the absence of the titles said, “The absence of the other titles of these other missions is and has been a matter of concern for us at ULC over the years, we have been actively working to address this issue and the primary goal is to ensure that all land title for government land including alnd for missions abroad are appropriately held by ULC in order to provide a secure foundation for the management of Government land.”

According to Uganda Land Commission, Government land is estimated to be about 23% of the land area which is approximately 241,038Sq Km including of national parks, gazetted game reserves, water bodies, wetlands and other protected areas, however, only about 26.8% is titled.

Vincent Bagiire, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs tasked the Commission to produce the land title for the second property in Pretoria-South Africa informing Parliament that at the height of the inquiry into land matters in 2017, the Uganda Land Commission wrote to the Ministry asking them to submit a list of the inventory of the properties owned by Uganda’s missions abroad, a directive the Ministry honoured and the two properties in South Africa featured in the list.

“Uganda Land Commission didn’t get back to us to dispute what we had written to them at all. We indicated which titles were with ULC. I am relieved to here that there is one title because so many things go in the media that the Secretary came here and said that there were certain titles that they didn’t have and yet on the list we forwarded in 2017, those titles were included. Now that they have one, I am sure that they can find the second,” said Bagiire.

 

He also added that the reason why some land titles wouldn’t be in possession of ULC is that in some cases, these titles are being kept by the accounting officers at these missions due to the construction works being undertake remarking, “Indeed where they say they don’t have land titles, we also acknowledge that they are still with the accounting officers because those areas are under construction.”

Information from ULC indicates that some of the missing titles are in Missions like; Brussels Belgium, Paris-France, New York 14 storey building, Embassy in Washington two properties, Canada two properties, Copenhagen, Nairobi Kenya 6 storey building, Abuja Nigeria Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania three properties and all land titles missing, Addis Ababa, Mogadishu, Guangzhou, Uganda Consulate in Mombasa

The development comes at the time when recently, John Mulimba, Minister of State for Regional Affairs, admitted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs isn’t in possession of the titles of Uganda’s Mission in Pretoria & Ambassador’s official residency, saying the mandate of holding land titles of all land in Uganda is vested with Uganda Land Commission.

Mulimba’s remarks were in response to an earlier statement made by the Commission that when the Ministry made an inquiry about the whereabouts of the properties in South Africa, officials of the Commission failed to come up with any tangible results.

The Committee’s probe into the matter followed a directive issued by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa at the start of November 2023, where she directed the Committee to give details in regards to information provided before Parliament by Florence Asiimwe (DWR Masindi) who advised Government that Uganda’s Mission in Pretoria should emulate other Missions and acquire accommodation for their staff hence reduce on accommodation expenditure while retaining the properties as properties in Uganda. It was during the MPs’ trip to South Africa that they discovered that the two land titles were missing.

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